Back to base

Consider this a follow up to last week’s Personal Reflection on Recent News.

Things appeared quite bleak for Saab last Friday when I wrote that piece and the event that inspired it – the non-payment of staff in a timely manner – is not an event that anyone wants to even think about repeating. Whilst there were various developments in the pipeline, they were in the pipeline and of course, we couldn’t talk about them until they were done. As we’ve learned from press releases in the last few days, there are (quote) “no assurances” that discussion will be fruitful because we seem to face obstacles at every turn so we have to be very cautious when it comes to statements about the future.

Things have got done, however. We have a new order for vehicles that will provide immediate liquidity relief to pay staff (and more), and we have a conditional agreement in place for the sale and leaseback of our property. More is needed and there will be more to come, but the important thing is that the wheels are moving and with some co-operation from people in high places they will continue to move. We can then get back to doing what we’re here for – making Saabs.

For me, it’ll be a welcome return to home base. As I wrote last week, it’s been very difficult to be away from Saab HQ and my colleagues there in this difficult time. We have a huge job to do, to get things moving again and that’s not just in the factory, but in the marketplace as well.

As happened when Saab were being sold by GM, there has been a whole heap of news about Saab in the press, but the vast majority of it has been negative news. No matter what actions we have in place to overcome obstacles (i.e good news) the focus is always on the obstacles. Bad news sells papers, after all.

Deals are in place (Pang Da, Youngman, etc) that make the medium-long term future for Saab very promising after this short-term liquidity crisis is behind us. If people can actually make their way through the analysis and speculation to find news about the actual products that we sell, they’ll see that our vehicles are world class. That’s the message that we now need to communicate all over again.

We have a lot of repair work to do in order to restore public confidence. Some in the press have staked their professional reputations on our demise so I don’t expect too much in the way of changed tone from them. But the motoring press know what we’ve got in our product portfolio. They know that it’s very, very good and getting better. They know that Saab is a company that’s worth keeping in the automotive sphere. We have to get that knowledge out and into the wider community, and that’s going to be the challenge for Saab in the coming months and years.

We’ve had a lot of people ask us questions in the public domain in the last few weeks. I hope we’ve been able to manage those questions to your satisfaction within the limitations we face as a public company. I also hope we can bring you some more engagement with our executive team as the time pressures on them ease up a bit.

We’ve also received a LOT of support from people in our social spaces and I want to extend a heartfelt thanks on behalf of the company to all of you for that. Our enthusiast community is one of the most engaged in all autodom and they prove this support time after time, after time. Griffin up, people!

We still have work to do and we will keep on fighting. We never, ever give up. And most importantly, we keep working on designing and building the best, safest and most fun vehicles we possibly can for our customers.

I can’t wait to get back to base.

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  1. Thanks to you Swade, VM, and all the employees, dealers and others working on behalf of Saab’s future, we the enthusiasts CAN stay engaged, supportive and outspoken.  It’s because of the staggering level of work and dedication Saab has shown that the rest of us still have a car company to cheer for.  I’d buy you all a pint if I could when this is over, but for now, please just accept my sincere gratitude.

  2. Swade, you always have support from this community that is Saab. We are all behind you and if anything, we just wish we had more answers for our customers. I have no doubt that this will all come around and we will be building again. Thank you for always calming the storm.

  3. Time to talk about the cars again… The portfolio is great and will bring the cashflow back…

  4. I’m trying to stay positive.  It’s frustrating that Saab’s fate rests with government and banking officials who dont have the company’s best interests at heart and who are without accountability.  I have every faith in Saab and its management.  Things will turn around.  Saab needs a little help right now.  Let’s hope that the outside forces will respond quickly to Saab’s needs. 

  5. In the same way Saab makes cars that are “different” why not market them in a “different” way instead of the obvious and boring Golf events and ads ? If the “specialized press” reports negative news, that should be their problem, not yours. It’s no question that Saabs are great and could be even better but right now what’s lacking is not the product itself but almost everything else, ie support network, etc. A great product is just not enough. Why not work to out think and out innovate in the perifery of the product too ? Why not capitalize the thoughts of the most amazing enthusiast crowd of the automotive industry within an open source feedback channel ? 
    This is the proud owner of a just purchased Niner Five Aero airing his thoughts.

    1. Indeed, and how on earth are we going to find thrill ever again?!?

      …You guys and galls at SAAB need to show us a kick ass car in 2013-14 to get our adrenalin pumpin again…;-)

  6. Reading this, I still can’t believe I was close to trading my Saab convertible for a Mercedes SLK back in 2008.
    This Saab story with all it’s ups and downs really moves me… and I am proud to be a part of this incredible community!
    So please, please, Saab, don’t let me down: my next car MUST be a Saab again!

  7. It’s articles like these why I come here every single day. Thanks, Swade, once more. Griffin Up!

  8. Having loved SAABS for a long time now, owned at least 6, and just ordered a 4 month old 9-3 from SAAB GB, I can truly say perception of the cars themselves is still extremely high amongst the general public. I spoke to a friend who’s dream car is still a 9-3 convertible and WILL order one in the near future. She hadn’t even heard that SAAB were having a few problems of late.

    Being in design / advertising, I think there could be huge value in SAAB buyers (new or second hand) taking on a little brand commitment and populating the web with real life SAAB stories and reviews via blogs, Flickr and other social channels. After all that’s when SAAB’s really come into their own; day in day out enjoyment, you quickly become entwined in a community; one that almost no other car manufacturer can create.

    I for one will be grabbing my trusted camera and taking a few snaps of the 9-3 when it arrives shortly, it still looks a fresh and far more individual as any other new car out there.

    Use your subjects SAAB, we all love your cars; lets work together to ensure the SAAB name remains where it should – in hearts as well as driveways!

    1. Absolutely right. Everyone is getting a little hysterical over at SU; dire thoughts, political diatribes, unfounded rumors, illogical theories. It’s great to get news from the source. It’s even better that it’s well written, without unfounded speculation, and no doom and gloom (at least for now, and hopefully forever). As Sgt. Joe Friday used to say “Just the facts, ma’am,”

  9. Getting the word out is exactly what I’d like to do. In addition to being a Saab nut (I have owned a few), I’m also a film student – looking to get into making commercials. To that end, I’ve decided to shoot a few spec (as in ‘speculation’, as in done of my own accord, and not commissioned by anyone) commercials for Saabs. 

    I’m hoping to draw on the Saab community for a little help in making these. I have 3 scripts written, for one I’ll need the services of someone who speaks Swedish (I’m in Utah in the USA, and there aren’t a lot of native speakers here), and for another I’d need the services of several vintage Saabs. 

    My plan is to film these and use them as sort of a CV for my own capabilities, but also to spread the word and the Saab love over the interwebs by showing off the beautiful new cars.

    1. And hopefully, Benjamin will show off his finished commercials at ! Right, Benjamin?  😉

  10. Hi Swade and all the other Saab people out there. Just want to drop in and say Hi and a big thanks from myself as to keeping my spirits up with the situation with Saab. I can say I work within a dealer in the UK. Things have been and are now more than ever tough for us! All too often I hear negative comments surrounding Saab and I can tell you its very difficult to keep your spririts high. However I can always rely on a post from you Swade to keep me battling.

  11. Wages have been paid today …. cool dudes ….. it has been a good day …. smashing ….. more good news to come tomorrow?

    By the way, Swade, did I understand correclty? Are U on your way back to Trollhattan?

    1. I have just arrived back in the office.  Aside from the password to my email, these are the first words written by me back in Trollywood.  Wonderful to be back – and even more wonderful that my 900 started first turn of the key after sitting a week longer than expected at the airport 🙂

  12. Getting back to Trollhättan must feel like sticking you head into the bees honey pot: sweet, busy and sticky. For sure you already have been stung by the Saab working bees, but get protection for the summer mosquito stingers…